Judge tosses DJ's suit against Taylor Swift in groping trial

Shannon Melcher, former girlfriend of a Denver radio host who allegedly groped pop singer Taylor Swift, is helped to avoid the media after testifying in the civil trial in federal court Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
FILE - In this May 2, 2016 file photo, Taylor Swift arrives at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala in New York. The trial of a lawsuit between Swift and David Mueller, a former radio host she accuses of groping her, begins Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, in U.S. District Court in Denver. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Attorneys for pop singer Taylor Swift, Douglas Baldridge, left, and Jesse P. Schaudies, Jr., are surrounded by photographers as they enter the federal courthouse for the morning session in the civil trial , Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, in Denver. Radio station DJ David Mueller sued Swift after her team reported she was groped by Mueller, to his bosses at a country music station. He is seeking up to $3 million, saying the allegation cost him his job and reputation. Swift countersued Mueller, claiming sexual assault. She is seeking a symbolic $1. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
In this courtroom sketch, defendant David Mueller, a former radio DJ, left, sits with his attorney during a trial Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in Denver. Taylor Swift testified Thursday that Mueller reached under her skirt and intentionally grabbed her backside during a meet-and-a-greet photo session before a 2013 concert in Denver. (Jeff Kandyba via AP)
FILE - In this May 10, 2016 file photo, Taylor Swift arrives at the 64th annual BMI Pop Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. The trial of a lawsuit between Swift and David Mueller, a former radio host she accuses of groping her, begins Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, in U.S. District Court in Denver. (Photo by John Salangsang/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2016 file photo, singer Taylor Swift attends the Vanity Fair Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif. The trial of a lawsuit between Swift and David Mueller, a former radio host she accuses of groping her, begins Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, in U.S. District Court in Denver. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Workers in an office building taped up a message to pop singer Taylor Swift borrowing a title from one of her albums before the start of the civil trial Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, in Denver. Radio station DJ David Mueller sued Swift after her team reported she was groped by Mueller to his bosses at a country music station. He is seeking up to $3 million, saying the allegation cost him his job and reputation. Swift countersued Mueller, claiming sexual assault. She is seeking a symbolic $1. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
In this courtroom sketch, pop singer Taylor Swift speaks from the witness stand during a trial Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in Denver. Swift testified Thursday that David Mueller, a former radio DJ, reached under her skirt and intentionally grabbed her backside during a meet-and-a-greet photo session before a 2013 concert in Denver. (Jeff Kandyba via AP)
Fourteen-year-old Kennedy Wares, second from right, confers with her grandmother, Nancy Elliott, both of Littleton, Colo., as they move up the public line to view the civil trial involving pop singer Taylor Swift, Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER — A judge on Friday threw out a former radio host's case against Taylor Swift in a trial that delved into their dueling lawsuits over whether he groped her during a backstage meet-and-greet and whether she and her team ruined his career.

U.S. District Judge William Martinez determined that the pop star could not be held liable because David Mueller failed to prove that she personally set out to have him fired after the 2013 photo op in Denver. His identical allegations against Swift's mother and her radio liaison will go to jurors for a verdict.

Mueller denies groping Swift and sued the singer, her mother, Andrea Swift, and their radio handler, Frank Bell, seeking up to $3 million as compensation for his ruined career.

The singer-songwriter said in her countersuit that she wanted a symbolic $1 and the chance to stand up for other women. The jury will still consider her claim.

Swift teared up as the judge read his decision and said there was no evidence of her actions being insincere. Afterward, her team smiled and embraced. Mueller's side didn't speak.

"I couldn't be more proud to represent somebody like Taylor Swift who's willing to step up in a situation like this," attorney Douglas Baldridge said outside court.

The judge's decision came after days of testimony from the singer and others and just before jurors were set to hear closing arguments.

Swift spent an hour on the witness stand Thursday defiantly recounting what she called a "despicable and horrifying and shocking" encounter before a concert.

"He stayed attached to my bare ass-cheek as I lurched away from him," Swift testified.

"It was a definite grab. A very long grab," she added in her testimony.

Swift's testy exchange with Mueller's attorney occasionally elicited chuckles — even from the six-woman, two-man jury. She got a laugh when she said her security guard saw Mueller "lift my skirt" but someone would have had to have been underneath her to see the actual groping — "and we didn't have anyone positioned there."

Swift testified that after the photo was taken, she tried to get as far away Mueller as she could. She said she told him and his girlfriend, who was also in the photo, "thank you for coming" in a monotone voice before they left.

She also said she was stunned and did not say anything to Mueller or halt the event after he left because she did not want to disappoint several dozen people waiting in line for photos with her.

In the image, shown to jurors during opening statements but not publicly released, Mueller's hand is behind Swift, just below her waist. Mueller's then-girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, is on the other side of Swift. All three are smiling.

Melcher testified Friday that she saw nothing happen during the brief encounter and that she and Mueller were rudely confronted and escorted out of the arena that evening. Melcher said Mueller was devastated by the accusation.

She said she and Mueller started out as co-workers at country station KYGO-FM and became romantically involved in February 2013, a few months before the concert. They drifted apart late in 2013, but Melcher says they remained friends.

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